Reynolds Trust renews three-year grant for Border Belt Independent

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust renewed a three-year, $495,000 grant for the Border Belt Independent, the trust recently announced.

“Our journalism is funded by grants like these and donations from readers,” said Publisher Les High. “We do not sell advertising, and all content is free. Without the support of organizations like the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and others, there would be no Border Belt Independent.”

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust prioritizes projects and initiatives in rural areas, especially those with high poverty rates and poor health outcomes.

“Our stories help people who live in the Border Belt understand these challenges,” High said. “We regularly report on issues like health, mental health, adverse childhood experiences, justice, race, the environment, and education. The goal is to write stories that have an impact.”

High said that although the trust is a major funder for the Border Belt Independent and both organizations are focused on many of the same issues, “it’s important for readers to know that the BBI has complete editorial independence when it comes to the stories we cover and publish. KBR and other funders understand and respect the need for this degree of separation.”

The Border Belt Independent, founded in 2021, is an online, nonprofit newsroom that covers news and issues in Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Scotland counties. Many of the BBI’s stories are republished in local newspapers.

The BBI has full-time staff of three, Editor Sarah Nagem and reporters Ben Rappaport and Rachel Baldauf. Kerria Weaver, a graduate student, is a part-time reporter.

“I’m very proud of the work our staff has published over the past three years,” High said. “We’ve tackled some difficult issues and continue to gain the trust of readers.”

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Its mission is to improve the health and quality of life of financially disadvantaged residents in North Carolina.